For the Good of the Gulf: UNC Law Winter/Spring Break Pro Bono Project

Monday, March 14, 2011

Working with Daily Enthusiasm

After my first semester of law school (and a fourteen hour car ride), I was eager to start my first legal experience outside of the classroom. I worked at the Orleans Public Defenders office. The attorneys seemed overworked and lacked the resources I expected them to have. Our arrival was surely welcomed. In addition to the twelve UNC Law students, American University and CUNY law students were volunteering there as well. One of my tasks was to update and organize my supervising attorney’s 200+ open cases. During the process, I noticed some cases had no new activity in months, sometimes years. A significant number of other cases were on hold after the client failed to appear for court. I thought it must be frustrating to devote your time to a client, only to have them absent on their court date.

I also had two research assignments during the week. For one, I was surprised at how straightforward the issue was. I found the answer I needed quickly, which led me to question whether I had found the right information. Surely I would not be researching something that is easily found through LexisNexis, I thought. Then I realized that my supervising attorney lacked the time between going to court, interviewing clients in jail, and preparation for trial to research a simple issue.

My time at the Orleans Public Defenders’ office showed me that it takes a special person to enter the public interest legal sector. The attorneys at the OPD came to work with daily enthusiasm for what they do – protect and defend the rights of those who cannot afford an attorney. Despite their obvious lack of resources, the attorneys still love their jobs.

Josh Kinard


Post a Comment

<< Home